Safety & Accident

Video Safety Tip: Driving in a Downpour

January 11, 2016

VIDEO: How to Drive in the Rain

Drivers in drought-plagued California had to deal with heavy rains, flooded roads and even mudslides last week, with downtown Los Angeles recording more than 2.5 inches of rain over a four-day period. Though scattered showers are forecast for California this week, the Pacific Northwest is expected to get the brunt of El Niño-fueled storms. Of course, drivers in that region are much more accustomed to driving in a downpour.

In anticipation of El Niño, The Los Angeles Times produced a video last summer that pokes fun at both California drivers and PSAs — but also shares some practical tips on driving in the rain. To watch the video, click on the photo or link below the headline.

Additionally, here are some common-sense safety tips provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety. You may want to pass these tips along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder of what adjustments they need to make during rainy conditions.

  • Before it starts to rain, replace old or brittle wiper blades.
  • Stay toward the middle lanes – water tends to pool in outside lanes.
  • Maintain proper following distance (3-second rule). This needs to be increased in wet weather.
  • Be more alert watching for brake lights in front of you. Avoid using your brakes; if possible, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down.
  • Turn your headlights on in a light rain and in gloomy, foggy or overcast conditions to help you see the road and help other drivers see you.
  • Never drive beyond the limits of visibility. The glare of oncoming lights, amplified by the rain on the windshield, can cause temporary loss of visibility while substantially increasing driver fatigue.
  • Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the ground through it; your vehicle could be swept off the road.
  • Avoid driving through deep water because it can cause serious damage to a modern vehicle’s electrical system.
  • When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Watch out for places where floodwater collects, particularly low-lying roads adjacent to streams as well as dips under rail or highway bridges.
  • Never use cruise control on wet roads or icy road conditions. Cruise control can cause skidding and loss of tire traction on wet or icy roads. 
  • Don’t drive with your windows frosted or fogged up. Wait until they clear before leaving home. A quick way to de-fog your windows is to open a window to let cool air in. 
  • “Hydroplaning” happens when heavy rain and fast speeds lead to your vehicle riding on top of a thin layer of water, a dangerous situation that can lead to uncontrolled skidding or drifting out of the lane. If you find yourself hydroplaning or skidding:

          -- Do not brake or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas until the vehicle slows and you can feel traction on the road again.

          -- Turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skid. As you recover control, gently straighten the wheels.

          -- If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping action. If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally because the vehicle’s computer will mimic a pumping action.

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